A CHOP shop boss was caught with stolen vans being broken down for parts when police raided his garage at Century Mill, Farnworth.

Inside and beside the premises, officers found several vehicles, worth a total of more than £58,000, in various stages of being dismantled. Some had been stolen just days before the police swooped on April 16, 2018.

At Bolton Crown Court Terry Lord, who ran TL Autos, pleaded guilty to 10 offences of handling stolen goods.

The court heard that dad-of-five Lord had been struggling to make his business pay when he was approached by others to use the small unit to help dispose of stolen property.

"He said that a group of males asked him to store or work on various items," said Brian Berlyne, prosecuting.

"Although he was suspicious and reluctant to assist them, some pressure was put on him and he says, as his business was providing very limited income, he closed his eyes to the obvious."

The court heard that during the search inside 34-year-old Lord's premises, police found a stolen motorbike and two transit vans as well as a variety of other parts, equipment and tool bags.

An investigation, using identification numbers which had not been completely obliterated, resulted in the rightful owners being traced.

The motorcycle had only been stolen from Tyldesley on April 12 and one of the vans, belonging to a bricklayer, had been taken from Farnworth on April 14.

Lord's finger prints and DNA were found in the van.

Another Transit van and tools had also been stolen on April 14 in Bolton.

In a lorry outside the unit were parts which were found to belong to other van stolen on January 6 and its chassis had been attached to the body of a Luton van.

A drop side van body with tail lift were also found from a vehicle stolen in Farnworth on March 15.

A large number of stolen power tools were also discovered. In many cases they belonged to tradesmen who had needed them for work.

Joshua Bowker, defending, stressed that although Lord had played a significant role in the crime, he was not in charge and although he was a hard working family man, he had been tempted because he had financial pressures.

He added that Lord has had no further contact with others involved and has closed his business.

Judge Timothy Stead sentenced Lord, of Barton Road, Farnworth, to 14 months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered him to undertake 160 hours of unpaid work and participate in 20 days of rehabilitation activities.

The judge told him: "You became involved, although not the brains behind it, in an enterprise which was professional and sophisticated."

He added: "There are signs you can be rehabilitated. You've got five children. If you care about them, and I think you do, you'll make a success of the order. It gives you a chance."